As published in the Immigration Daily on August 14, 2020
American forts were built in great numbers in the 1700s-1800s and contributed greatly to the westward expansion of the country. Regardless of how you look at the history of the nation and the number of wrongs committed in building America, one cannot argue that forts built along the way served to push expansion by placing troops within reasonable distance when called upon.
Now the American fort is rising in the twilight of these four years, but rather than for expansion, for the hermetical sealing of this country. In every way, the Trump administration has moved to wall off the nation from the rest of the world and to return to the cultural America of the 1950s, an era replete with discrimination, Jim Crow laws, and white supremacy.
To turn back the clock, the administration has done everything in its power to forcibly expel and discourage immigrants from staying; to encourage US citizen children to leave with their parents; to bar the admission of qualified immigrants and nonimmigrants; discourage citizenship applications; and push to revoke the citizenship status of numerous individuals. It has taken advantage of the pandemic to issue a series of exclusionary presidential proclamations in the name of public health concerns, while at the same time taking no steps to take control of the coronavirus spread and assigning that responsibility to the nation’s governors while sniping at them from the sidelines. Mr. Trump has also gotten the CDC to act as his henchman in further issuing rules restricting the entry of foreigners. The political games of this administration and the pandemic have played out according to Mr. Trump’s likes and dislikes such as derogatorily assigning the blame for US infection to China while ignoring the fact that the vast majority of US coronavirus cases originated from European travelers; not including a heavily infected Russia in the list of countries whose travelers are barred from the US; and arbitrarily allowing students from the Schengen area of Europe to come to the US despite their specific ban under presidential proclamation.
A whiter and “cleaner” America is the goal and the stopping and expulsion of immigrants has been an important part of the strategy. Fort America is about half complete with most of the border wall to be built, and other measures have been implemented to win the party of Trump and Trump another four years to complete the job through measures such as voter suppression, cost-cutting the Postal Service to handicap it from fulfilling its duty to handle mail-in ballots, discouraging undocumented immigrants from participating in the census thus affecting reapportionment of House seats, and even surreptitiously running Kanye West for president to siphon black votes from Joe Biden in key states.
It seems apparent that another four years of this administration will finish off whatever is left of immigration as we know it today. For the sake of a whiter America, this administration has ignored all evidence that immigrants have contributed much more in benefits than they have taken in public benefits; that they have revitalized blighted cities and towns; that they have stopped America from becoming an “aged” country that cannot support its Social Security system; that they commit far less crimes than the rest of the American populace; and that they have culturally benefited the country through their foods, traditions, and ideas. In the pandemic, many of them have saved American lives and sacrificed themselves as essential workers including doctors, nurses, EMT technicians, other hospital workers, researchers, farmworkers, meatpackers, grocery store workers, food delivery workers, etc.
The hermetical sealing of this country is also encasing America in a rusted suit of armor from which it cannot move and can only look on as the administration has ceded its dominance as the moral and physical leader of the planet. Whereas Russia has moved unimpeded in conflict zones and become the feared powerbroker in the Middle East, the US has done nothing but betray trusted allies in the region. Its stance on China has been that of a paper dragon doing little to stop China’s march to dominance over much of Asia and parts of Africa. Despite beefing up military spending and at one time surrounding himself with a phalanx of retired generals in important positions, Mr. Trump has hobbled the actions of the Armed Forces, making the US the weak man in the military community.
In the gloaming, the Republican Party’s visionary America’s Fort sits, with its non-colored inhabitants perpetually patrolling the ramparts against the outside world. One wonders what four more years will bring.